FLORENCE, Italy — They were made in Syria six centuries ago, and stand elegantly in a row of vitrines at the Uffizi Gallery here: five ceramic jars that once contained treatments, ointments and scents from the faraway Orient. These “Albarelli” jars are decorated with an interlacing pattern of flower stems and foliage. And at the center of each one is a lily — the historical emblem of Florence.
The jars tell the story, in a nutshell, of “Islamic Art and Florence from the Medici to the 20th Century,” an exhibition running through Sept. 23 that maps the long-lasting and reciprocal exchanges between the city and the Islamic world. Held at the Uffizi and at the nearby Bargello Museum, it brings together some 250 objects — ceramics, carpets, silks, manuscripts, metalwork and glassware that were given to, commissioned or acquired by people in the city over a 500-year period.